Greenhorn is a word I expect I’ll hear fairly often in years to come. A greenhorn, according to Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Paula Manalo and Zoe Bradbury – authors of the newly released second edition of The Guide for Beginning Farmers is “a novice, or new entrant into agriculture.” To be precise, it is a certain kind of new entrant into agriculture: one who was not raised to farm and who has no family farm to inherit but who is unconventionally and some would say irrationally choosing to become a farmer, no matter his or her lack of education and resources. Touches of madness are not uncommon among greenhorns. Gutfuls of passion aren’t either. Read more

In his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver, Barack Obama told us, “America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done… Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save.” The group of about 20 of us who were listening to his speech on a laptop as we got ready for the “young farmers seed swap” about to take place at Slow Food Nation stood straight up and smiled. “Did he say farms? Does he mean that?” As 80 other young activists, students, cooks and farmers streamed into the room, that phrase – “farms to save” – swam circles in our ears. Obama was confirming what we are all beginning to feel is mission of our generation: saving farms, rebuilding the food system, digging back into the land. He didn’t mention what kind of farms we have to save, but he did imply that the future of the economy and of our cities is bound to the future of agriculture and that the security and livelihood of our nation depends on our ability to grow food. That’s an old-fashioned idea, but it’s still a big one—even to young people. Read more